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E06826: The Greek Martyrdom of *Gordiοs (soldier and martyr of Caesarea of Cappadocia, S00114), almost certainly a 10th c. or slightly earlier text which reproduces almost unchanged a lost earlier Martyrdom of *Hesychios (martyr of Antioch, S01034).

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posted on 2018-10-10, 00:00 authored by Nikolaos
Martyrdom of Gordios (Hesychios) (BHG 703b)

Brief summary:

In Antioch, when the emperor Maximianos orders everyone to sacrifice to the pagan gods or resign from office [στρατεία, denoting a military or bureaucratic career], the hero is among those who voluntarily take off the belt [the symbol of office]. The emperor attempts, without success, to persuade him in various ways to renounce Christianity: first by making him wear women's clothes and work in a textile workshop (γυναικεῖον τῶν λαναρίων), then by alternately promising him high honours and by torturing him, suspended upside down, with burning irons and a cauldron of boiling pitch placed underneath him.

When these attempts fail, Maximianos hands the saint over to the centurion Zeugmatios, who threatens to shame both the hero and the young Christian woman, Alexandria, by forcing them to have intercourse. The saint, however, exchanges clothes with Alexandria, allowing her to escape while he pretends to be her; the ruse is only discovered when the saint is brought to the palace.

After a final unsuccessful attempt to persuade the saint to exchange Christ for worldly glory and riches, the emperor has his tongue cut out, but the saint keeps talking. After this he is executed by having a millstone tied around his neck and being thrown him into the river Orontes. The saint's body is carried by the current to the sea and cast ashore in Katabasis, a suburban location (προάστειον) of the Cilician city of Rhosus. Christians collect the body and deposit it in the same place, near the beach. The martyrdom of Gordios [Hesychios] took place on 3 January.

Text: Halkin 1961, 8-15.
Summary: N. Kälviäinen.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Gordiοs, soldier and martyr of Caesarea of Cappadocia : S00114 Hesychios, martyr of Antioch : S01034

Saint Name in Source

Γόρδιος Γόρδιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rhosus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles experienced by the saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Pagans Monarchs and their family Soldiers Officials Crowds Prisoners

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The Martyrdom is preserved in a single 10th century manuscript, for which see below. This text is an early Greek martyrdom account bearing some or all of the hallmarks of the 'epic' subgenre (Martyrdoms characterised by a relative detachment from historical reality and often including extravagant, even fantastical, elements; see H. Delehaye, Les Passions des martyres et les genres littéraires, Bruxelles, 1966 (2nd ed.), 171-226). Without any specific grounds for a more concrete dating, this and many similar texts can generally only be attributed to somewhere from the 5th to the 8th centuries.


The text presents an entirely different version of the martyrdom of Gordios from that in Basil of Caesarea's homily on the saint (E00671), and gives as the location of events Syrian Antioch, instead of Caesarea in Cappadocia; furthermore, it also mentions the saint's tomb being located in a place called Katabasis, a suburb of the city of Rhosus (in Cilicia Secunda; modern Arsuz in Hatay province, Turkey). On these grounds it was initially hypothesised by Halkin that the present text was composed for the needs of a local cult of Gordios in Rhosus, thereby turning the originally Cappadocian saint into a local Cilician/Syrian one (Halkin 1961, 7). However, Lackner later arrived at the conclusion that the text appears to have been taken over wholesale from an earlier lost Martyrdom of Hesychios (martyr of Antioch, S01034), seemingly by a medieval scribe who probably changed little save the martyr's name and date of death, and who had carried out the same procedure in at least five other cases as well, all of them transmitted in the same 10th century manuscript, Patmiacus 273 ( Among the other known cases, are the martyrdom accounts, ostensibly of Theoktistos (BHG 2424) but really of Mokios (BHG 1298c; see E06221), and the text BHG 1567f, supposedly a version of the Martyrdom of Polyeuktos (see E02836) but really a lost Martyrdom of Philippos (bishop of Heraclea, E06837). In this light it would seem that the information relating to a cult site in Rhosus in Cilicia probably actually concerns Hesychios, not Gordios (Lackner 1970, 5-12).


Text: Halkin, F., "Un second saint Gordius?," Analecta Bollandiana 79 (1961), 8-15. Further reading: Lackner, W., "Eine verkappte Hesychios-Passio," Analecta Bollandiana 88 (1970), 5-12.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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